Making Government Operations More Open

Fix the Classification System

There is a near-universal consensus that the national security classification system sweeps too broadly and that it restricts too much information for too long. Overclassification not only has disruptive effects within government (as noted, for example, by the 9/11 Commission), but it is also poisonous to democratic governance. Revamping the classification system should be a priority. In particular, a focused, public review of the classification policies of each classifying agency is needed to reassess classification practices and to eliminate obsolete or inappropriate classification instructions. Existing classification oversight capacity should be supplemented with routine inspector general audits of classification activity. Declassification authority should be expanded beyond the originating agency, particularly with respect to historical records. New forums for resolving classification disputes should be established.

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Idea No. 140